[Robot technology in the Italian Health-CARE system: cost-efficacy economic analysis].
ABSTRACT Robotic technology is used in multiple fields of surgery, especially radical prostatectomy in patients with prostate cancer. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the introduction of robotic technology in the Italian Public Heath-care context, from the perspective of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA). An economic analysis that compares the costs and effectiveness of the method was developed. Data were compared with those of the most important international literature, analyzing structural and organizational problems related to the method.
A systematic review of literature on tertiary literature (Health Technology Assessment reports) and secondary (systematic reviews) published since 2002 was conducted. The review was also conducted on more recent primary literature regarding the clinical effectiveness and the economic analysis in the fields of surgery where Da Vinci robot is most promising.
18 studies were selected out of a total of 65 evaluated. The "Break-Even Point" (BEP) is the minimum number of cases needed to be treated in order to achieve a balance between costs and revenues, below which the system is losing money. It was calculated that the total fixed costs are € 378,000 and variable costs are € 3,810 per surgery. Considering that the current value of DRG (Diagnosis-Related Group) refunded by the public Health-care system is actually € 4,553, the BEP would be achieved performing 508 surgeries, so that the robotic technology does not generate neither profit nor loss.
It is not possible to demonstrate the superiority of robotic surgery in terms of efficacy. The robotic surgery is safe and effective only if performed by surgical teams with relevant experience. Considering the reported case of an Italian University Hospital with public Health-care system refund, the BEP target of 508 radical prostatectomies could be achieved after a few years. The use of the robot in multiple fields on one hand shortens recovery time costs, but on the other hand increases costs due to organizational issues. The value of the DRG refund does not appear adequate to new robotic technology.